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Re: AIS: Bulletins, Changes, Membership

On Feb 11, 2006, at 2:24 PM, Robt R Pries wrote:

 It is amazing to me that I can agree with most
everything Anner has said and yet arrive at what may
be the opposite conclusion.

The first point was that many members really did not
join on their own volition, gifts, discounts, etc. I
agree, that is why we agree that those are probably
not viable ways of gaining members that will stay.
Even years ago when the society was growing, these
same tactics were being used and most members did not
stay. But the small percentage that did stay was
larger than it is today.
I guess I'd have to see some numbers to support that. I think there are too many variables and the differences too small to draw too many conclusions.

And that subtle difference is
what causes the society to wax rather than wane.
Logically the difference is whether that small
percentage discovered the organization a good fit in
that trial year.

 Anner wrote ----First, I want to observe that in my
experience significant  numbers of
"new" members which are being "lost" each year were
probably really
not there
to begin with. They did not join of their own
volition, fueled by an
in irises. They were given their  memberships,
either as gifts, or as
promotional incentives by Affiliates or
individuals, or they were
signed up at
someone's expense to increase the  membership rolls
of a local group,
or they were
signed up because someone  thought giving a
membership to a local
center or a newspaper columnist  was a good idea. We
hear ideas put
forth all the
time about giving away  memberships as a means to
exciting the public
getting the message  out, so we should not be
surprised that some or
most of  these
people do not renew. We may rightly say that we have
failed to  win
them over,
possibly that they were even driven away, but I
think it  is well to be
realistic about the situation and the odds in these
cases. Members
also drop at
the two year, the three year, the five year,  and
the tenth year
point, and I
would be more concerned about those  losses. It is
just as important
to keep the
excitement going for  the continuing--read
sustaining--members as it
is to
create  excitement for new ones.
 I doubt that it is a zero sum game that appealing to
new members would make the society less appealing to
older members. If anything it means that the society
might be more appealing and vibrant to everyone
Depends on how it is done. Zero sum gains are often an unintended consequence.

Second, I do not think having business material in
the Bulletin has
to do with the losses. I suspect people turn away
from the magazine
because of what they find there, but what they do
not find: Items
which reflect
their own interests and what they want from the
society,  and everyone
something. The problem is that they don't always
want  what the
Society can
provide, or what the Society itself needs them to
want, which is to
be active,
engaged participatory members,  informed members who
are actually
interested in
the business of the Society,  contributing members
who want to know
what is
being decided by and about the  organization, that
community of people
they have
 I agree that what members do not find is important,
and because the amount that is spent on the bulletin
production is finite,  reducing the costs of business
items allows for more space for articles that might be
interesting to those who are interested in Iris but do
not wish to be involved in the governance of the
society. To me developing the casual interest of a
gardener who just wants to grow iris is just as
important in their promotion as providing data for the
officers of the society.
We have to remember that there are a number of things that have to be published.

Were I able to wave a magic wand to make one change
in AIS it  would
be this:
I would wish that every member would  fully
understand that when we
speak of
AIS we speak not of "they," as in  "they keep
printing stuff in the
which does not appeal to  me....they keep raising
the dues and not
giving me my
dollar's worth...they  are not getting the news of
the Dykes winner
out to
the media...I don't  know why they don't do more for
the young...they
pushing bearded irises at the expense of
others...they don't meet my
needs." Nor
do we, as members, accurately speak of AIS as "you"
as in "you are
members" or "you have a membership problem" or "you
are not meeting my
 needs and
expectations" There is no They among members; there
is no You.  The
word in
most of these instances must be  "We," although
often it is "I."
There is a Board, yes, and administrative agencies
at various levels,
AIS is not just these people, these members. AIS  is
the membership as
a whole,
each one of whom is ideally a supporter of  the
Society's mission and a
contributing member of the whole, according to
their abilities,
circumstances, and interests. That, I  believe, is
what joining AIS
This WE verses THEY argument is right on, but I dont
understand how it relates to this discussion. Surely
if we are part of the organization it is important
that we discuss changes that could benefit all of us
including new members and WE then have to help carry
them out.
I think it relates to the problem because so many of the members think of the Board (and thus the organization) as unresponsive and that "they" are out of touch.

Unfortunately, many folks see opting for membership
in AIS as a
issue, like buying a warranted product, as opposed
to joining in  an
activity, or
entering a venue for self education. Declaring  that
AIS, or the
Bulletin, is
not delivering on the dollar is to  define
membership as a product,
and I
deplore it.
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